Packing Up

I’m getting ready to return to Chicago after my side trip to New Jersey.  My much-anticipated visit with my brother Mike was underwhelming, to say the least. It was a return to reality, in essence quite similar to my previous visits with him. It seems that I spent the intervening years between visits romanticizing my relationship with him, building fanciful intellectualized artifices and dreams of communication on some weird ethereal level.  Well, it was an interesting journey and I am happy to have been able to share it with everyone, particularly other siblings of the severely mentally disabled.

Moving on

Although my visit to New Jersey was a side trip from my family currently in Chicago, the quest to understand Mike was anything but a side trip for quite a number of years. I will never lose interest in learning about autism and the workings of the brain, but I would like to relegate my personal connection to the status of a side trip. Although Mike shaped my life significantly, possibly in the same way that an irritating grain of sand plays a significant role in forming a pearl, I have paid my homage to him.

LB and Mom

What is next?

Will let you know. I have a lot of thinking to do. There are many interesting things to think about.

4 thoughts on “Packing Up

  1. Jack, my sister who is somewhat verbal often does the same thing with family members, especially those she hasn’t seen in a long time. She doesn’t seem to acknowledge them, will move away to a different chair or sofa, or leave the room when they come. She does this with even people she likes very well. For some reason, she would rather remember the past than try to comprehend the present. For example, a good friend of mine babysat (sorry, I don’t know a better word) for me about fifteen years ago. Often in the past fifteen years she would say “Where is Chrissy? Chrissy take good care of me. What color is the hair? What color is the dress? Where does Chrissy live? etc. (She answers her own questions. Yet, when she saw Chris last month she barely looked at her. She knew who she was, but for some reason she prefers to deal with Chris in the past. I expect a year or so from now she will talk about last month’s visit.
    Don’t give up on your brother, Jack. One brief visit can’t fulfill all your expectations. If it’s important to you, you may need to spend more time with him, and maybe without the distraction of your Mom and younger brother. He may have been overwhelmed. I can’t compare my experiences to yours, but I know that many people who meet my sister for the first time think she is much more severely mentally disabled than she really is. Autism is a strange and awful condition when it is coupled with severe mental retardation.
    One question for you — is there anything in your brother’s room that he likes? A radio? Music? Photos? Looking out the window? Anything that is “his?”


    • Thanks, Anne. I appreciate your comment. I built up too many expectations. I also live 3k miles away, so more visits are not likely. My brother has never communicated with me or anyone else in the family, being nonverbal. I’m glad that he has some rapport (assuming, again) with the people where he lives. I don’t think he is unhappy.



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